MoneyHub: Is This Money Tracking App Worth Paying For?
I was stupidly excited to try MoneyHub when I found out that it would link to Triodos bank – something that no other finance apps currently do. I was even happier when I downloaded it and found it also linked to my John Lewis credit card (even though others like Money Dashboard didn’t) as well as almost every other account I have, including investment and pension accounts. This alone, for me, made it immediately the best money tracking app and at the moment I am thrilled that they are offering a 6 month free trial. But, will I pay for it once the fee kicks in, and what’s it got to offer people who can get finance apps for free that already cover all of their accounts?
Features I like
Coverage of bank accounts
OK I’ve already gushed about this and explained how for me this puts the app above all of the other options. If other banking apps started doing this though then Money Hub might have to pull something else big out of the bag for me to pay for it.
There have been a couple of blips in terms of connecting accounts, for example my mortgages aren’t eligible for Open Banking, but I’m pretty sure this is the “fault” of the accounts and not MoneyHub. In these cases the balances can be updated manually, which is fairly typical of money apps.
Can export transactions in a CSV file
If you are a budget dashboard nerd who still wants to import your activity into your own spreadsheet that is just the way you like it (guilty!), then you’ll like the fact that you can export transactions through a CSV file and then copy and paste into your own spreadsheet.
Can decide what to include in your net worth
I am a fan of the net worth tracking functionality for a couple of reasons. Firstly you can add in assets, like properties or cars, as assets rather than employing some clunky workaround and treating them like manual accounts (as you do have to with Money Dashboard. This means you can capture any costs of the asset and expected appreciation and factor this into forecasting.
Secondly, you can decide what to include in your net worth figure. I personally like to exclude our equity in our home in my main figure as I like to focus on our progress towards financial independence, and our house equity doesn’t help towards that unless we were planning to sell the house.
Content geared towards ethical investing
On the dashboard page are links to posts which are mostly geared towards ethical finances. I think this is an interesting idea as it creates an opportunity to learn, and as it sits on the bottom of the feed it is not very intrusive. The content isn’t updated that often, so it’s not as though there will be something new to read every time you log on.
As with a lot of the features that are slightly outside the core functionality you’d expect from a finance app, it would be nice to be able to remove them from the dashboard if you wanted to.
Features I don’t like
Link to Zoopla to get current property value
You can link to your property on Zoopla to retrieve an estimate of the market value. At first this seemed like a great idea, particularly as it will automatically monitor it over time. The big drawback is that the Zoopla data seems so far off, very different from the housing price indices that banks will draw on when screening you for a mortgage. [This is where I expect a more knowledgeable reader to comment below with the fact that it isn’t, or that they aren’t accessible?]
As an example, our rental property in London came up as about half what it is currently worth based on recent sales of identical flats, so we manually inserted that value instead.
I was surprised when I saw a link to find financial advisers on the app. It seemed like a cheeky on-sell/affiliate marketing tactic which I wouldn’t expect from an app with a subscription model. They justify it by saying that you can conveniently share your financial information with the third parties, but given that you can easily download transactions I don’t think it’s that much of a benefit.
In the settings tab you can track your progress towards certain achievements, Fitbit-style.
Even as someone who is interested enough in an app to write a blog post about it in my spare time, I’m not interested in knowing how frequently I’m checking the app or how well I’m doing on categorising my transactions. It seems this is more information that the app creators want to track? I’d suggest more focus on metrics like charitable giving (as they already do) or savings rate.
The dashboard and categorisation is a bit hit or miss. For example, it recognises one of my pensions as a pension, while the other shows as Investments/Insurance. On the plus side, the “nudges” are sometimes quite handy, for example telling you when you are a certain amount through a budget you set or when you have just hit a new loan to value ratio on a mortgage. This is really personal though so it would be nice to be able to turn off the nudges if you wanted to simplify your notifications.
If I could wave a magic wand…
…I would love to see more ways to match progress towards common financial goals, particularly when on a path to financial independence. For example, we provide our property value, the deposit given, the starting size of our mortgage and the current balance, so there’s a lot of analytics they could do with at. The app tracks the loan-to-value ratio, but it would be great to also see the percentage of the mortgage paid off (or house owned, based on purchase price).
You can set up a “project” and link your property as an asset and your mortgage balance. This will show you how your property has increased in value since buying it as well as the amount that the mortgage has decreased. It won’t show the percentage paid off though.
As the app tracks net worth so well, it would be great to also track progress against reaching a specific net worth figure, particularly for those on the route to FI. You can see an analysis of your investments as one total, and I like the fact that you can also see performance to date, but you need to overlay your own analysis to see progress towards a specific investment pot.
The verdict: is it worth it?
When my free trial runs out in 174 days I would be paying £14.99 a year for the app. I’ve heard that there’s a slightly cheaper subscription option if you don’t go through iTunes but it’s not easily visible on the app. Will I be happy to pay for it?
Well, it will depend on whether other apps have improved their coverage of the accounts they link to. Money Hub also have some tough competition with apps like Numbrs offering weekly prize draws which everybody seems to be winning!
On balance, I do expect to sign up. It makes monitoring my overall progress towards my financial goals easier. I also really appreciate that they have been the first to link with Triodos and I’d like to support a company that seems to have shared values. Because of this I expect their future innovations to be things I’d be interested in too.
I hope this is helpful if you are thinking of trying a new budget tracking app, particularly if you have had issues with bank coverage before. To clarify, I haven’t been supported in any way by Money Hub to share this and there is currently no referral scheme.